Emirates To Begin Retiring Its Airbus A380 Fleet


Emirates is to start the process of retiring its Airbus A380 fleet. The move, which was anticipated, will eventually result in the reduction of the number of aircraft to 90-100 by the mid-2020s.

An Emirates Airbus A380. Photo: Emirates

The airline added the first A380 to its fleet back in 2008 and announced earlier this year that it plans to retire them fully in the 2030s. As Emirates cut their final delivery by 39 aircraft, Airbus announced that it would cease producing the A380 in 2020. The final deliveries to Emirates will take place in 2021. This makes them the last airline to still have A380s on order, apart from one for ANA.

Why is Emirates withdrawing the Airbus 380 fleet?

Emirates Airline president Tim Clark told Flight Global, “We have aircraft coming out as their [operating] leases end, or when their financial leases end if they are wholly owned.”

Explaining the reason behind the decision, Clark added, “They are under retirement because we’ve got a major overhaul coming up and it’s best to take the old aircraft out – they’re all written down – and take the gear off them rather than buy a $25 million main landing gear. I need two, possibly three, to meet that [overhaul] requirement.”

The A380 will remain part of the Emirates fleet for years

Despite the announcement, it is expected for the A380 to continue to be a part of the Emirates fleet for the foreseeable future. According to Clark, the aircraft will still be seen in the airline’s fleet up to 2035. The A380 retirement is to be progressive, first stabilizing at about 115 aircraft, and then going down to 90-100 by the middle of the 2020s.

Emirates doesn’t believe there is a viable secondhand market out there for its A380 fleet, so it decided to get all the life out of the planes before discarding them. This means passengers won’t have to say goodbye to A380 cabins just yet.

Emirates airline in flight
Emirates is the biggest operator of the A380 in the world. Photo: Emirates

Other airlines that plan to retire the Airbus A380 fleet

With Airbus concluding its A380 program at the beginning of 2020, airlines have already started to retire the aircraft from their fleet, even though some are still waiting for deliveries. Some of the airlines that decided to bid farewell to the A380 include Air France, Qatar Airways, and Singapore Airlines.

However, British Airways, which is one of the airlines with most A380s in its fleet, decided that there is plenty more life in the aircraft, being interested in using A380s to replace some of its dwindling 747s.


Emirates A380 business class cabin. Photo: Emirates

Even though some airlines such as Emirates are implementing their A380 retirement plan, others still find value in the aircraft, especially when it comes to replacing their aging fleet.